6 feet of space. Just 6 feet. That is all I had to work with for my recent booth at the Indie Wed show. I opted out of requesting a full booth because I thought it might overwhelm me to make an entire booth space all kinds of amazing, but I quickly realized that being limited to a smaller space is much more overwhelming. I may have even had a minor meltdown in my planning process along the way….how do I make a 6ftx6ft space chic, inviting, and special with limited resources? How do I set myself apart with such limits? How do I stand out? How do I represent myself and my branding in such a tiny space? Well, after that minor meltdown, some major brainstorming, and a lot of help from my family, I finally pulled it together! And since I know I was desperate for advice and inspiration when planning my own booth, I thought it might helpful for other photographers thinking of doing a wedding show, for me to breakdown my space and tell you a little bit about it. So, here it is. The booth breakdown.
Click through for the booth breakdown!
I am lucky enough to have an awesome father-in-law and brother-in-law who built me the PVC pipe frame that served as the backdrop stand for my booth. My lovely spouse even spray painted the PVC frame grey for me to match it to the color scheme of the booth. I then went on a fabric hunt with my mother to find the perfect material for my curtains. Originally, I wanted more of a blush pink because that is much more my personal style, but I quickly realized that my booth needed to not just fit my branding, but also stand out. So, to stand out, I needed that pop of color and we settled on this brighter satin pink. After an entire Saturday behind the sewing machine (we were dealing with a majorly faulty machine), my backdrop was complete! I told you it was a family affair! So, don’t be afraid to get all hands on deck to make your space as pretty as can be. Admittedly, I am awful at asking for help and it was a bit uncomfortable for me to do so in the beginning of this project, but boy, am I glad that I did because I had an awesome team behind me on all this.
The show provides you with your basic 6 foot table and folding chairs, but I nixed that right from the start. I knew I would not be comfortable sitting behind a table all day, hoping people would come talk to me. I wanted to be standing, moving around, talking to different people, and letting the attendees explore my work on their own. I would highly recommend this approach to wedding shows as opposed to sitting behind a table all day! Be yourself, hang out, and get to know people. People will get to see how approachable and fun to be around you are. And you will have fun too!
Nixing the provided furniture meant I would have to bring my own set-up in. So, off to the budget conscious Swedish furniture land I went! Ikea on a Saturday afternoon, no less! What can I say, I’m dedicated! So, after a day of making my way through the Disneyland like crowds and measuring things out about 20 times, I came home with a grey sideboard cabinet and matching side table! Cute, right? They may have taken what seems like forever to put together, but I was pretty happy with how they came out. I left the doors off the sideboard cabinet to provide more display space and with the last minute addition of tap lights to shine some light on the prints inside the shelves, I was set. Making sure your work is displayed well is vital! So, if you are thinking of putting some prints in a cabinet or bookshelf that is shielded from light as I did, think about grabbing a few cheap tap lights to make sure they are well illuminated. It will look like you have fancy installed lighting, when really you bought them at Walgreens for a few bucks!
Oooh, one of my favorite things! This is where I really had fun, bringing my space to life. Thankfully, my friend Suzy (of Lily Red Studio) introduced me to the wonder that is Home Goods, which is where I picked up all the silver frames for my prints and the adorable grey ottoman. I figured I needed a spot that could be used as seating if anyone wanted to sit down and really check out all the albums. The beauty of this ottoman is that it was just as great with a pink throw (for another pop of color, of course!) and albums sitting atop it for display purposes. I liked that it made the space feel homey and welcoming. I also added a throw rug that was a mix of neutrals, pinks, and metallics to balance the space. I wanted people to feel like I was inviting them into my home and to feel comfortable, so it was important to me that the space feel fully finished and balanced.
Originally, I really wanted my booth to ooze sparkle and shine, but when my backdrop of all sequins didn’t pan out, I settled on using accessories to add some sparkle. From the metallic touches in the throw rug, the silver frames, and the silver platters for business cards to the homemade confetti glitter I sprinkled all over my tables and the metallic spray painted clipboard. That’s right, I used a mixture of mirrored paper, glitter paper, pink paper, and of course a big hole punch to make my own confetti. (I used it in my swag pouches as well as all over my booth, so those who received my little pouches of fun in their swag bag could connect it to my booth. I wanted my booth branding to be consistent throughout.) I also bought a can of textured silver metallic spray paint (that basically looked like silver glitter) to paint the clipboard I was going to use to collect emails for the giveaway and the little bowls I used for candy and stickers.
I am all about little details. It may seem silly to worry about what the clipboard looks like, but I guarantee you, people notice how much care and thought you put into making even the little details amazing. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot either to make those little details count! You can do A LOT with a $5 can of spray paint or a few pieces of fun paper and a hole punch. And invest in a customized stamp if you can, so you can brand anything and everything at a moment’s notice. (The contents of my swag pouches that were little muslin bags stamped with my logo. Inside were a handful of stickers, confetti, and candy. With a business card, of course!)
The final touch was a couple of gorgeous floral pieces, provided by Pollen, that accented my space and gave it some life. I couldn’t get over how pretty they were and how perfectly their little grey pots fit with my booth. I was elated to have them gracing my space and loved telling people where they were from as they oohed and ahhed over them. Try to find other vendors to work with on your space, maybe a florist for beautiful flowers or even a baker for yummy treats to give away. I love the feeling of supporting other amazing vendors in this industry and I couldn’t have been more excited to send more foot traffic Pollen‘s way at the show when I was asked about the flowers. And really, my booth was 10 times pretty with her floral pieces adorning it! (Thank you, Lynn!)
Since I wanted my booth to feel homey, I decided to display the majority of my work in framed prints instead of many huge canvas prints. I made sure to get a nice mix of sizes of frames (Home Goods), so it would feel like how they might be displayed on a table in your own home. Though, culling my images for display may have been the hardest part. Definitely get some input on your print selections. I found myself partial to many photos that were my favorites or were special because of the story behind them, but keep in mind attendees won’t know the reason those images are extra special. So, try to first pick those stellar stand out images that don’t need a back story to feel the emotion and then make sure you have a nice mix of wedding, engagement, groomsmen, bridal party, and so on. Getting third party input is great help with this! I used my father (who has been my personal art critic since photography school and isn’t afraid to hold back!), my spouse, and some friends. Just ask anyone you have on hand to see what images they are drawn to and why.
To balance the space out and complete the backdrop, I had a gallery wrapped canvas made of my logo and 2 of my favorite images. I wanted my name and logo to be easy to spot and I wanted to showcase at least a couple canvas prints since I include these in my wedding packages. I wanted couples to be able to see what they look and feel like in person. (My father, who has tendency to be all kinds of amazing, hung these with cute shower hooks and fishing line. And I think it was subtle and perfect!)
It was also important for me to have albums galore on hand displaying my work, so couples could get a firsthand look at what their wedding album might look like. I’m a KISS albums girl, so I designed and ordered some delicious new sample albums in every size and finish (both leather and linen) for the show. People loved getting to see fully designed wedding albums and many took a seat on my lovely little ottoman to page through quite a few of them! I am so glad I had all these on hand because I want couples to really see the gorgeous keepsake they are investing in. I want them to see how beuatiful their images will look in an album and how yummy the leather and linen bound covers are. I think it is vital to have samples of your products on display at a show like this. If it is something you include in your packages or even sell ala carte, people need to see and feel what it is they are getting.
In line with showing people all the products available, it was essential for me to showcase digital albums on iPads, as that is now offered in my top package. After designing my new KISS sample albums in the amazing SWAT album design program, I loaded up the design files onto my iPad. I also created a slideshow of lots of other images that I didn’t have room to display in print, broken up with an informational slide about the giveaway I am running and special offers for the show. So, the iPad was on a constant rotation of digital albums, other portfolio images, and informational slides throughout the show. People LOVED this! Not to mention, I managed to turn a regular everyday frame into a stand/frame for my iPad, so it definitely caught people’s eyes. It really drew people in and sometimes they would just stand there, watching the slideshow at length! This is a really inexpensive way (if you already own an iPad, that is!) to showcase a lot of your work. It shows people you are super tech savvy and you can use it to pull up any information or images you want at any time! It also gave me an opportunity to talk about my image sharing program, PASS, where images are stored in the cloud and accessible via any computer or mobile device whenever you want. Between my SWAT designed digital albums, super slick PASS app, and the iPad integration, people were loving how they could embrace the digital age with their wedding images.
Last but not least, I needed print materials that were cute, informative, and easy to hand out. First, I stocked up on new business cards galore from Mpix Pro to share with potential clients and vendors, alike. You can really never have too many business cards, right? And you can always find great deals on them. Secondly, I designed a pricing card for handing out to attendees. Not everyone wants to stop and chat at every booth, or any booth! Sometimes people just want to take it all in, get the information, and look into it further when they get home. And that is totally okay, you just want to be sure you have your information available to be easily distributed at a moment’s notice. I used Overnight Prints to make my pricing cards on the cheap so I could have about a million made! I used the main image from my website on the front (consistency!) with my contact information and listed my package information on the back. The essentials. Thirdly, I wanted to be able to give something out that was fun, memorable, and not all about my logo, so I created the “Keep Calm and Marry On” stickers. I am kind of obsessed with them and I was giddy to see that lots of brides were too! I printed them through Moo in mass quantities, so I could give them out to my hearts desire at the show. I liked the idea of giving people something that wasn’t all about me and my company, because they would be going home with countless cards, stickers, candy, and buttons with logos on them. I wanted to give out something silly, fun, and all about them. I think people really appreciate little gifts like this that are not branded. It is much more likely that they will use them and appreciate them. And then remember you, as a result. So, don’t be afraid to NOT slap your logo on every little thing.
Whew! If you made it through the booth breakdown, I think you deserve a gold star…or maybe some smarties (I may or may not have about 10 pounds of smarties left over from the show, so I think it’s safe to say you can do without the candy at your booth.). It may have taken weeks of stress and work, but it was all worth it, in the end! I had such an awesome time meeting people at the show and I feel like despite the limitations, I made it work for me! I, now, feel super prepared to conquer the next independent wedding event or show and I can’t wait to do it all over again! I hope the booth breakdown helped those of you that are thinking about doing a wedding show in the future. Let me know if you have any questions about my booth or ideas for yours that you’d like some input on! I would be oh-so-happy to help!